“Officer down. All units please respond!”
One has to appreciate the bravado of developer Spark Unlimited in naming their latest game, Legendary. While the title brings together an assortment of antagonists culled from literary and oral tradition, one expects the gameplay to be illustrious in nature. Although it is unlikely critics will be discussing Legendary’s merits in years to come, the title still offers a decent, yet blemished journey for first person shooter fans.
The game opens as main character Charles Deckard attempts to pilfer Pandora’s Box, which is on display at a prominent New York museum. While Deckard may be a master crook; he’s no authority of mythology; he unknowingly opens the artifact and releases havoc upon our world. While the narrative may lack sophistication, the game’s blending of mythological creatures in urban settings is a wonderful intermingling that is reminiscent of critical darling The Darkness. Like Spark Unlimited’s, Turning Point: Fall of Liberty, that saw an alternative universe where the Nazis were victorious during WWII, gameplay doesn’t quite measure up to the title’s narrative possibilities.
This is what happens when you feed them after midnight.
Controlling Deckard is functional, but lacks refinement. Players use the two stick control method traditional of most shooters, but the title lacks Halo 3’s subtle target tracking or Call of Duty 4’s aim assist. Players will know ballistics will connect with adversaries when the targeting reticule changes from blue to red. While this is serviceable, it is also exploitable for long-range foes half-buried in cover. Strangely, the game’s vertical jump is vastly underpowered; clearing ground debris is often cumbersome.
Several balance issues adversely affect Legendary’s gameplay. Unlike most FPS’s, which dole out an ever-increasingly lethal arsenal, the title’s first weapon, an ax, is excessively powerful. While normal enemies require a barrage of bullets to defeat, a few swings of the ax subdues foes instantly. Activating environmental triggers and absorbing health dropped by defeated enemies is both painfully slow and frustrating. Additionally it leaves you open to enemy attacks, and was the frequent cause of our demise.
However, Legendary does offer the gamers a number of satisfying subtleties. We enjoyed how enemies would react to fir-; shoot some beasts in the head, and they will instinctively cover their face with their limbs. Both friendly and enemy AI is surprisingly intelligent and refined; human foes will bound between covered positions in an astute attempt to flank the player, while beasts tend to swarm in packs. When Legendary moves the firefight to open environments, the game gets unexpectedly immersive. As a certified gun nut, I appreciated the title’s licensed weapons, although the recoil on many firearms is a bit contrived.
Graphically, the game creates an atmospheric depiction of a post-apocalyptic New York. Using a palette of cool blues and dusty browns, the game environments convey a creepy sense of destruction and imminent danger. Despite a 4.5 GB install on the PS3, the game’s unskippable cinematics were prone to fits to slowdown. While Legendary‘s framerate runs effortlessly in closed hallways, action can slow in open areas filled with enemies. The game’s single multiplayer offering ran fairly lag-free, although there was a scarce amount of people playing online.
A bit of Gears of War inspiration never hurt anyone. Except this firedrake here.
This season, most FPS fans will rightfully gravitate toward the triple-A titles: Gears of War 2, Resistance 2, and Call of Duty: World at War. If you’ve haven’t picked up those titles, we cannot recommend Legendary over those exceptional games. However, for the player that has completed those epics, and still craves a competent shooter may want to take a look at Legendary. While lacking polish, the game has a handful on innovations that veteran games might appreciate, especially at it’s current retail price of thirty dollars.